Women’s History Month
The month of March is Women’s History Month, celebrating the contributions women have made to our country across many fields, including military achievement. All of us here at Paws for Purple Hearts would like to take the opportunity to recognize the strides made by our female Warriors. Women have always been involved in our military, but have traveled a long road to be recognized as equals in capability and rank as men.
During the Revolutionary War, women traveled alongside George Washington’s Continental Army, boosting morale, tending wounds, cooking, cleaning, and mending clothes. In the Civil War, women began serving on a larger and more official scale. Approximately 3,000 women served as nurses for the Union Army, including, notably, Clara Barton. Historians estimate about 1,000 women disguised themselves as men to fight on both sides.
In WWI, before gaining the right to vote, women were allowed to openly serve in the US military as non-commissioned officers and in non-combat roles, doing clerical duties, operating telephones and radios, and acting as translators. WWII saw a huge increase of women in uniform. Nearly 350,000 women stepped up to fill the roles of men who went to fight on the front line. These women not only did clerical work, but technical roles such as working in laboratories, machinery repair, and aviation. After the War, many of these women were pushed out of these roles for the men returning home, and many of these Warriors struggled to obtain Veteran benefits for their service.
Three years after the War, President Harry Truman signed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act into law allowing women to serve in all branches with restrictions. This day is now recognized as Women’s Veterans Day on June 12. One month later, he issued the Integration of the Armed Forces executive order, desegregating the military and allowing Black women to serve as well.
Two years after when the Korean War broke out, women would serve in non-combat roles such as military police officers or engineers. In the Vietnam War, President Lyndon
B. Johnson opened promotions to women to General and Flag Ranks. Women were then allowed to command units that included men.
In more modern times, we have seen many firsts, including the first woman Navy Fighter Pilot, and the first woman four star general. In 1994, President Bill Clinton rescinded the “Risk Rule” allowing women to serve in all positions except for ground combat. In 2013, it was announced the ground combat ban would be lifted. The full lift took place in 2015, allowing any female Warrior who completed the necessary training and requirements to serve in almost any role.
At present day, women make up 17.3% of the military. Here at Paws for Purple Hearts, 23% of the Warriors we serve through our unique therapy program developed by our President and CEO, Dr. Bonita Bergin: Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy®, Social Therapy and Assistance Dog placements are women. We salute these women for their commitment to serving our country, pushing through barriers, proving they are just as skilled and capable as their male counterparts, and ensuring one of the core tenets our country was founded upon; “all people are created equal.”
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